Ottawa Event Review: “There There” with “Citronella” at the Art House Café

As you know, I advertise a lot of events at a lot of venues, and I like to get out and see these venues so I can comfortably say I know what I’m talking about. So last week, I finally had the opportunity to have a gander at the Art House Café on Somerset Street West. I was invited to attend the “There There” concert with “Citronella” as the opener.

The Art House Café is amazing, and definitely worth a visit. Its quiet and cozy atmosphere creates a perfect setting to spend time with friends, have a date night, or even take in an intimate concert or other event which are held there often.

The restaurant/bar is absolutely chock full of amazing artwork, and not just hanging on the walls, every little trinket around the place is created by highly talented local artists, and it’s all for sale! A great date night could be to grab a drink and delicious snack from the bar and explore the various works of art. Although maybe not so romantic, but to top it off, your tour must include a trip to the bathroom where the walls are completely papered with post-it-note confessions written by past patrons with some incredibly entertaining messages. Don’t stay in the bathroom too long though, there are only two. This amazing treasure is a must-see for Ottawa, and with art selling regularly, the ambiance changes often, creating a revitalized look each and every time you visit.

 

 

Now on to the show! The concert was held in the westernmost room of the venue where they packed in roughly 30 people, in an area with an estimated safety capacity of probably 15-20, but it was no problem, it literally was the most “intimate” concert I’ve attended. “Citronella”, a band made up of three guys who come from the Algonquin College music program, opened the show. I like to mention possible influences when reviewing a concert so the reader can better comprehend what you’re getting into should you see them. Just take “The Bahamas” and mix in Ritchie Valens’  “Sleepwalker”, and you’ve got “Citronella”. The best way to understand their sound is to picture yourself laying on a beach in paradise with relaxing tropical background music emanating from a local coffee shop; That’s who these guys are! All three of them are very talented musicians, and they work so well together, I really enjoyed their show and hopefully they won’t be strangers to the Ottawa music scene. Keep an eye out for them during next year’s festival season!

 

The main act of the night was “There There”. I admit that I had no idea who he was until doing a little pre-show research. “There There”, is a one-man show, whose sole member writes his own music, and has it produced here in Ottawa at Audio Valley Studios, creating, what is in my opinion, an entirely new and innovative genre of music. He calls his music “Electronic Hip-Hop”, and although I recognize the association with each of those genres, I don’t necessarily agree that he fits into this category. I listened to his Spotify list many times leading up to the concert, and I can honestly say that I love his style! I’m a fan of electronic music, and this definitely is something I can get into….I just need a vinyl copy now! The beats and music in this production are unique and fantastic.

 

The audience packed the room where he was playing, without so much as standing room available, and they loved every second of the show.  I overheard comments such as “he’s so good live” and “that was incredible” during and after the concert. I’m not sure how many tickets were available, but I don’t think anyone else could have come to this show, it must have been sold out. My photographer, Hilary (Chaiton Photography), was having a difficult time getting unique shots as we were not able to maneuver around the crowd. But the music was great, so it didn’t matter. The set was only about 45 minutes, as he played through his Spotify list of his new album. As he is solo with no band or DJ, he plays the background tracks and vocals off his computer, and although that was worrisome at first, it didn’t take away from the quality of his performance, except that he wasn’t prepared for an encore which was demanded by the audience.

The strongest and most exciting part of this concert is the music and beats. At the risk of repeating myself, it truly is a unique sound that is worth checking out. I struggled only with the live aspect of the concert. I found that defining his performance image, both musically, and physically is difficult. I mentioned that I don’t agree with his music falling under the “electronic hip-hop” genre as I’m really not sure that the “electronic” part fits in with typical “electronic” (read: house/Techno/rave/dub…etc) music, which is why I say that he’s defining something new. The “Hip-Hop” part of his music is, in my view, his weakness, as his voice is too musical, and higher than normal for hip-hop. He didn’t show that he has an “angry” or “hard” typical sounding hip-hop voice, and in fact, he has a higher-toned voice that works incredibly well with the non-hip-hop, electric aspects of his music, and I believe he should focus on that quality. If I had to classify his musical style, I would suggest he’s a combination of Avicii, Moby, a bit of Adam Levine, and a lesser version of Eminem mixed into one. In defining his physical presence, he’s got the hipster hair, a “Clash” rocker t-shirt, and black and white checked socks, but very little to accent the hip-hop aspect of his show. It’s a confusing look, but regardless, he pulls it off nicely.

 

Overall, I loved this experience. The Art House Café is such a cool place, “Citronella” is a group that hopefully will be around a long time to develop into a solid long-lasting band, and “There There” is just incredible; I love how he’s strayed from the beaten path while defining his own style. This is a talent and I wish more bands/musicians would step outside of their comfort zone inside an existing, pre-defined musical style like he has done. I think as he grows, his fan base will follow him wherever he plays.

“There There” is next scheduled to play at Turning Point Records at the end of February. All his shows will be promoted on my events calendar going forward so keep an eye out for them, hopefully, he’s no stranger to performing, and we’ll see him often. Check out his latest album “In Seed” on Spotify now!

**Photography by Hilary Chaiton (Chaiton Photography)

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